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Orthodoxy and sexuality


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#21 Daniel Jeandet

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 09:13 AM

I found this text on sexuality in Saint Maximos the confessor's second century on love:

"Again, vice is the wrong use of our conceptual images of things, which leads us to misuse the things themselves. In relation to women, for example, sexual intercourse, rightly used, has as its purpose the begetting of children. He, therefore, who seeks in it only sensual pleasure uses it wrongly, for he reckons as good what is not good. When such a man has intercourse with a woman, he misuses her. And the same is true with regard to other things and our conceptual images of them."

I know that some people dont agree with this teaching. They feel there must be more to sex than just the begetting of children. I seem to remember Saint John Chrysostom teaching that the reason sex is pleasurable is because if it wasnt, no-one would want to do it. Perhaps we over-complicate these matters.


#22 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 12 March 2005 - 02:56 PM

I think that St. Maximos is mainly addressing the sinful way in which sexuality could be approached. He is not attempting to be exhaustive in how he characterises proper sexuality in saying that it has as its purpose "the begetting of children." So I do think that we should obviously include love in the positive aspect of sexuality & I do not think including this (and perhaps other good things) would be doing any violence to St. Maximos' vision.

Note also that St. Maximos refers to "sensual pleasure" in sexuality as being sinful. He does not say pleasure itself is wrong but rather the gratification of sensuality which is different. For example there is & can be something pleasurable & good in the closeness of human company without this being sensual & hence sinful.

Of course though we would do well to take to heart the saint's warnings about what is sinful- sensuality- for one suspects that some of the more extreme defences of sexuality in our times are really an attempted defence of sensuality.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#23 Guest_Maria Kouroumali

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 01:37 AM

Dear All,
apologies for this belated post on the topic,
but my research obligations have taken priority.

I would like to thank everyone who has responded
with their views, comments, suggestions.
Thank you, Byron, for the Sherrard book and
the website. I have just got hold of the former
and will have a look at the latter as soon as
possible. I think I need to clarify that my
doctoral research has nothing to do with the
concept of sexuality or auto-eroticism in Late
Antiquity or Byzantium. On the contrary, I
am working on a historiographical and historical
study of Procopius' of Caesarea's books on the
Gothic campaigns of the Emperor Justinian which
is a very 'secular' topic.Posted Image

My question derived from personal discussions
with friends and my inability to formulate a
persuasive Orthodox response. In that context,
I was concerned to discover support from
the Scripture, the Church Fathers and saints on
the subject as well as any serious academic
study from a psychological/psychiatric
perspective.

From that point of view, Anesti, I certainly did
not imply that one should not read non-Orthodox
writers or respect their contributions to
scholarship, but rather that I, personally,
was interested in receiving my arguments from
the Orthodox perspective. However, I still hold
to my academic view of western Late Antique/
Byzantine scholars primarily treating
ecclesiastical and hagiographical literature
with a scholastic and secular mind. Very rarely,
if ever, have I met someone in my faculty here
in Oxford who had even considered reading any
of the readily available introductions to the
Orthodox Church, including Fr Meyendorff's and
Bishop Kallistos' books on the subject. After
all, whether one likes this or not, the modern
Orthodox church is the Byzantine church, not
only in terms of theology and dogma, but also
in terms of historical tradition. Therefore,
I would expect that these academics would have,
at least, perused relevant books in the same
way that if I were to study Judaism or Islam,
I could hardly be expected to do so without
reading their sacred literature and related
introductions on these topics.
Having just returned from a conference here in
Oxford regarding the religion of the others
in Late Antiquity (others meaning, heretics,
Jews, Samaritans) and being subjected once more
to the current, 'trendy', academic views of
how Arians were not really Arians, but branded
so by their opponents, the same applying for
most of the heresies, I do feel there is a
prejudiced, secular view of the Eastern Orthodox
Church. Frankly, I have never understood how
the entire Orthodox Church could have been at
fault in proclaiming the sanctity of St Athanasius of Alexandria, St Cyril of Alexandria,
the three Cappadocian Fathers, not to mention
the target of most western venom, St Constantine
the Great, who, if reading or listening to
contemporary western scholars, were either
deluded, belligerent or scheming individuals
intent on spreading their propaganda and the
only reason people like Arius were termed
heretics is that the above belonged to the side
of the winners. Unfortunately, I fail to see
how this can be the case, but then I have been
called a narrow-minded, confessional Orthodox
Christian (by a fellow Orthodox, I might add,
albeit a convert) in line with both Fr Romanides
and Fr Florovsky (both of whom it would be an
honour for me to be condemned with although
I fail to see how I can achieve their level of
authority and erudition). So perhaps it is a
question of cultural perspective, but I will
maintain my opinion on western academia in
relation to my field of study. A personal
note here to add that several years ago my
supervisor told me that Peter Brown had just
returned from his first visit to Mt Athos (this
being 2001/2) and having met his first holy man
When I asked my supervisor how he had reacted,
he answered:'He was very disconcerned'. I write
this because it is indicative of people who
have spent their lives researching and writing
on issues which they have not explored fully such
as Orthodox asceticism and monasticism which is
very much a living tradition, not only
spiritually, but historically. Brown's famous
article on the rise of the Holy Man in Late
Antiquity views this as a social and political
phenomenon rather than examining the spiritual
implications or contexts. Professor Brown is
a highly erudite scholar, but that does not
preclude him from succumbing to failings.
I do apologise for the lengthy and perhaps
irrelevant digression, but having studied
hagiography as part of my Master's degree and
spending the last nine years here listening to
the prevailing notions of scholarship on these
topics, not to mention discovering that half
the Orthodox saints are either pure inventions
or fictional elaborations of different persons
-I exaggerate when I say half, but, unfortunately
not when I talk about invention - I am somewhat
sceptical about the contribution of western
scholarship to our understanding of the life
of the Late Antique and Byzantine theological
world.

To return to the topic of autoeroticism:is
there anyone with easy access to an Old Testament
(unfortunately I don't have one with me) who
can tell me whether there is a story concerning
Avnan (from whose name derives the Greek
word for masturbation)? I seem to recall once
hearing about this, but have never followed it
up and would be grateful for any help in locating
the passage, if it exists.

Thank you to those who will have the patience
to read this extraordinarily lengthy post!

In Christ,
Maria


#24 Gilbert Gandenberger

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 04:20 AM

Maria, I was able to grab my Strong's concordance, supposed to cover every word in the KJV English translation, no entry for Avnan. Doesn't ring a bell for me, not sure what story you are looking for.

Gilbert Gandenberger
Illinois USA


#25 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 06:30 AM

Dear Maria,

I think the OT figure you are referring to is spelt Onan in English. He is found in Genesis 38 ( here), and is famous for having "cast his seed to the ground" rather than making love to his deceased brother's wife as was expected of him by the custom of the day. He received a severe punishment from God for this, which does not bode well for those of us guilty of the sin under discussion!

On a more serious note though, these OT accounts are refreshingly frank on sexual matters, and remind one of a time when the awareness of a link between sexual behaviour and holiness was more conscious than it is today.

As to the Orthodox interpretation of the Onan story, I am personally looking forward to the publication of the Orthodox Septuagint in summer this year, because I have a lot of questions about how we Orthodox understand the OT. I just hope the commentary will be thorough.

ICXC
Byron


#26 Olga

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 07:04 AM

To throw a cat among the pigeons, I remember reading an interpretation of the Onan story that the act he performed was the "withdrawal" method. Wonder what the learned people on this forum would make of this, and the implications, given the severity of God's punishment of Onan. Posted Image


#27 Anestis Jordanoglou

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 02:38 PM

Thank you Maria,

You're perspectives are very enlightening to me - and you've brought to the fore realities I were not aware of. I take for granted that academics of such prestige would be more open-minded.

I'm looking into the whole issue of self-erotism - have some ideas on other topics which would relate and may lead to answers.

Anesti


#28 Guest_DR. R. E. POUND

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 03:36 PM

[Dear Christian friends, on the issue of Onan's self fulfillment, let = me note that God did not punish this man for for self-fulfillment, but = for refusing to obey the law of God regarding his brother's wife. Self = fulfillment for singles is a very healthy practice, necessary for the = well being of both men and women. May the Lord bless us as we study =


#29 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 March 2005 - 06:08 PM

Dear Dr. Pound,

Regardless of the secular view, many Fathers of the Holy Orthodox Church teach that self-satisfaction is really no different than adultery, having a sexual relationship with yourself is still having a relationship with someone who is NOT your spouse. I would say that many in the Orthodox Church would have a difficult time referring to this as self "fulfillment."


#30 Guest_DR. R. E. POUND

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 12:16 AM

[Dear Herman, thank you for your kind and informative reply. However, = let me ask you if the Word of God condemns this practice? Sexual = fulfillment produces valuable hormones for the health and well being of = the body. How is self fulfillment contrary to the Word of God? I am = asking because I do not know that it is? Thank you for your kind =


#31 Fr. George Morelli

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 12:36 AM

> Dr Pound .... Glory to Jesus Christ! ...I am not a theologian, simply > a priest-psychologist. Once again I defer to the theologians among > us in the group: Fr Raphael and Dr. Steenberg ..... May I just relate > a few reflections. I was at an OCAMPR Conference attended by Bishop > Kallistos (Ware). In commenting on the citations from the Church > Fathers, he said that that the Church finds what is "orthodox" in > their discovery of Our Lord's teaching. Thus a single Church Father > cannot be the source of Orthodoxy, consensus and context must always > be considered. "New" teaching is not made, rather "discovery" of the > true teaching of Christ as He passed them on to the Church is > "made". My understanding of the Church Fathers and tradition of the > Church is the basis of the article I previously posted "Sex is > Holy." This article has a pastoral-didactic practical purpose, namely > to teach parents, teachers and caretakers how to effectively teach > children about the holiness of sexuality and marriage. Sexual > self-satisfaction is not part of God's plan for us as He revealed His > plan to us and is understood by His successors. If one were to > reflect on what Our Lord told the assembled crowd:"You have heard > that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' "But I say to you > that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed > adultery with her in his heart. (Mat 5:27-28) It would take volumes > to cite the consensus of the Church Fathers on this topic. The > passions, lust, imagination, self-centeredness are topics discussed > and handed down by the Church Fathers. The "Philokalia" is filled > with such and more. As an example to choose the first reference in the > first Volume of the Philokalia (p.78) St. John Cassian tells us: > "Movement occurs in the sexual organs not only of young children who > cannot yet distinguish between good and evil, but also of the smallest > infants still at their mothers breast. The latter, although ignorant > of sensual pleasure, nevertheless manifest such natural movements in > the flesh....I say this not to accuse nature of being the cause of > sin-heaven forbid-! - but to show that the incensive power and desire, > even if implanted in man by the Creator for a good purpose, appear to > to change through neglect from being natural in the body intro > something that is unnatural. Movements in the sexual organs was given > to us by the Creator for procreation and continuation of the species, > not for unchastity...." The Trinitarian Model of sexuality moves it > from 'lust' to 'agape'. As the Person's of the Trinity relate to one > another in Love so does a blessed sexual union. A sexual act devoid > of committed reciprocity (marriage) is therefore adulterous, as Our > Lord told us (adultery in our heart). Christians are a small minority > in a pagan-secular world. Self pleasure, self power, self worship, > self enhancement at any cost: a world without God is the theme of this > pagan-secular world. These are the values "of the world." The average > Television program or commercial more that testifies to these values. > St. Paul told us, however to be "in" but not "of" he world. Other > directed love as witnessed by the Trinity, the Incarnation, the > Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord are to be our values "in" > the world. These are 'divine' values that by our baptism, we are to > carry with us. Jesus tells us: [We] are not of the world, even as I > am not of the world. (Jn 17:16) I will end my few reflections by > quoting St. John's first Epistle (4: 5-8): "They are of the world, > therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to > them. We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is > not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth > and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another; for love > is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does > not love does not know God; for God is love. This is the basis of my > clinical pastoral counseling and approach to sexuality.....in Christ > ...unworthy priest George


#32 Guest_Maria Kouroumali

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 12:42 AM

Many thanks to everyone who responded. Indeed the English version of the name is Onan-my mistake. Byron, thanks for the link; I was also sent a link to the Blue Bible by another member which proved exceptionally useful as it has Greek,KJV English and Hebrew text of the OT.

Although I still believe that our carnal sins are severe, I do not think that God will judge us in quite the same way as the OT people for the simple fact that we live in a totally different society. I have often heard, from my spiritual father and other devout people, that many holy fathers of the Church, when asked about the judgement, have said that God will take into account the times in which each one of us lives. This is not to say that sin is not always sin and that we should not, as always, strive to cleanse ourselves of passions, but that God, being merciful, understands better than us the society which we live in nowadays and the distorted perception of many things which it advocates. Indeed, if He didn't, then I don't think many of us would stand a chance.Posted Image

Today's society is openly materialistic and advertises unrestrained sexual activity, even perversions, as 'natural', 'healthy' expressions of the sexual instinct in direct contravention of Christian law and morality. This is especially apparent to those of us who belong to a younger generation and are often extremely isolated amongst our peers from this point of view. I have always taken comfort in the thought that God realises the temptations which beset us and the weakening of our spirits and gives us strength to rise up again and again as we do each time we participate in confession. However, this does not mean that we should not seek to understand the true purpose of the gifts that He has given us and the appropriate use to which these should be put to or that we should neglect our endeavours to overcome temptation. But I wouldn't worry too much about being cast down dead as, if that were the case, many of us would certainly not be alive today. Many things in the OT also reflect the mentality of the people to which they were addressed to rather than God's will. As I have been taught, the OT mirrors many things which were fulfilled with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but should not be taken literally in every respect as God tailored his responses to the understanding of the Israelites at the time. I think it is an important point to keep in mind as so often God is portrayed as vengeful and punishing based on a misunderstanding of the OT when, in actual fact, He acquiesced to the demands of His people and their level of understanding. We are the ones who change, God is 'ever-exisitng and eternally the same' and He is a loving God.

further to reading:

I have discovered a book called Eros and Transformation by Fr Basil Zion (William Basil Zion), published in 1992, giving an Eastern Orthodox Perspective on Marriage and Sexuality, including homosexuality and masturbation. I have not read it yet, but would be interested to discover if anyone else has and what they think of it. From the introduction, it appears that Fr Basil was also a trained psychoanalyst and moral theologian before his conversion to Orthodoxy.

any comments are welcome

In Christ,
Maria

#33 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 07:45 AM

Dear all,

I chanced upon a group called "Axios" on the net, which claims that an actively homosexual lifestyle is not incompatible with being an Orthodox Christian. I read an article On Being Gay and Orthodox Christian which tries to defend this, and found some of the arguments a bit elaborate, and rather 'untidy' theologically. I do understand the way gay people must feel about the attitudes they encounter from religious people who (wrongly) condemn them for their sexuality rather than showing compassion. As a psychologist, I agree with the author of this article that a great deal of suffering and a lot of unhealthy side-effects are usually caused by being told that the way one is is not acceptable, or worse, that it is "unnatural" or even - sadly - some Christians who forget to separate the sin from the sinner and claim that homosexuals are hated by the God of love Himself.

However, the above article claims that even the currently (I believe) mainstream Orthodox teaching that homosexual people are loved by God, but are called to struggle against their fallenness as we all are(and not pursue an actively gay lifestyle) , is itself wrong and unhealthy and impractical.

On the one hand, I can understand this viewpoint too. On the other I am thinking: is there really any sound theological basis for arguing that gay relationships which are characterised by mutual commitment, stability, trust and 'love' as the author claims, are acceptable to the Lord? Is the rite of adelphopoiisis indeed what the author, Mr Zymaris claims it to be?

I look forward to reading responses, particularly from theologians like Fr Raphael and Dr Steenberg, but also from all who want to be compassionate and honest, but also fair and Orthodox in their views.

ICXC
Byron


#34 Fr. George Morelli

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 01:36 PM

> Byron, Glory to Jesus Christ! I believe your question needs a > psychological discussion followed by once again our Orthodox Theology > of Sexuality. As I see it psychologically the issues are varied and > complex. these include: sexual orientation, sexual attraction, > individual differences in sexual attraction, which includes sex > differences and the issue of biological, and cultural influences on > all of the above. Sexual orientation as we know is the sex one is > attracted to. This can either be heterosexual, homosexual or > different degrees of bisexuality. Sexual attraction differers in the > number of individuals one is attracted to and the relative strength of > attraction. In part there are sex differences in this area. > Heterosexual males are more apt to be attracted to multiple females > (e.g. the work of David Buss) while Heterosexual females are more apt > to be attracted to a single strong dominant male. Sexual attraction > also differs along a strong - weak dimension. The influences on > sexual orientation vary from cultural to biological. As I > understand the research, it would be better to speak of > "homosexualities" for example, than a single category of > homosexuality. The subtypes would range from those who choose the > lifestyle because of some socio-cultural factors to those who are > biologically predisposed to be attracted to individuals of the same > sex. From a clinical perspective as in alcoholism, clinical > interventions may differ in terms of the specific subtype of the > individual, if used at all. As I see it the 'fallenness of > individuals' sexually is not exclusively a sexual orientation issue, > but rather along the attraction and strength of attraction issue. > Clinically I have worked with heterosexual males, strongly attracted > to multiple females who indeed "suffer when they are told they cannot > act according to their "nature" (from a human view what they are > naturally inclined to). Of course I have worked with homosexual > individuals as well with the same "issue". We know from the > spiritual church fathers and mothers that our passions due to our > fallenness are inclinations to sin. The types and strength of these > passions differ among us. Spiritually thus the demon of "lust" can > attack both heterosexual and homosexual individuals. We are all > called to chaste in our state of life. Because the sexual act is > God's gift to us and the way we especially 'share in His creation' .. > it is special ... it is "holy" when used according to His will and not > blessed when it is used not according to His will. To be chaste > means following His Will in this regard. To be blessed in marriage > and "become in one flesh" conjugal union is blessed. It is potentially > creative [procreative] (unlike the Latin Church which tends to look at > each individual conjugal act the Eastern Church has tended to look at > the potential for creation (procreation) in the totality of the > marital relationship over time). It is Trinitarian: > committed-relational other directed love [as the Father, Son and Holy > Spirit relate to one another. the Father, the Creator, the Son, the > one who gives Sacrifice and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies---all out > of relational love. A review of the liturgical marriage rite, for > example shows this so clearly (God's faithfulness to unfaithful > Israel etc.) The crowns of joy and sacrifice, the blessing of > "education of children and fear of God". In an uncommitted > relationship all are called to be chaste by celibacy. I believe we > have to accept all are given different gifts and different crosses > (struggles) and different graces. We are not born equal. I believe > Elder Paisios pointed out: God's justice is not human justice. The > laborer in the last hour received the same payment as the laborer who > toiled the whole day. In our human world this makes no sense, but > somehow in God's world it does. Being followers of Christ, we have to > have trust in Him. His justice and mercy not mine. (Did not even [I > cannot believe I am making reference to a psychoanalyist] Adler point > out all are born in some way either morphologically or functionally > inferior) Some have humanly speaking great gifts and talents others, > humanly speaking, great liabilities and disabilities. Yet God loves > all and His grace is sufficient for all. Our task is to respond to > it. Mr Zymaris seems to be picking and choosing certain passages and > word meanings as he interprets them. As I understand it it is not my > or any individual's interpretation which is important but the deposit > of teaching and the Holy Spirit in the Church safeguarding the > teachings of what is God's will for us. The Church is infallible. > The whole of tradition and scripture, the Church Fathers, liturgy, > practice, the understanding of the bishops, priests and people of God > are what is critical to our understanding. As I just mentioned in a > previous post. Bishop Kallistos Ware has pointed out the consensus > and context of the Church Fathers is critical in understanding the > Fathers; not a single Father or single phrase or term. To end on two > clinical examples. Several years ago I had a male, heterosexual > patient. He was humanly very attractive as a male. (literally: tall, > dark handsome). He was blessed with a very high income and position > of power. It was not a question of him seeking females. Very > attractive females aggressively sought him out in may contexts for > sexual encounters. (Biologically he is a perfect example of the very > strong male attraction to multiple females as found by David Buss > mentioned above) He incidently, was a committed parent, struggled > constantly with the passion of lust and was trying to lead a Christian > life. From my experience , he "struggled" and "suffered much" in > dealing with his temptations. Just the other day I had a patient > ask me for some information I said "That is easy you have a computer > just do a Google search" He reflexively responded "No Father"! Porn > .... "Oh" I said, We then went on to discuss the wisdom of his insight > and action. His decision not to use his computer unless his wife was > home was psychologically sound (from the research on Conflict and > Strength of Attraction from the 1930's and 40's (Miller) and the > wisdom the the Spiritual Fathers of the Church, who wrote much on > dealing with temptation. I sincerely believe we are all called to > "theosis" based on our vocation so to speak. Some as heterosexual > chaste (celibate or married) individuals, some as homosexual or > bisexual chaste individuals. There are struggles in any calling. > Did not Our Lord embrace His "Cross" .. "is any servant greater than > his master." Possibly these reflections may be of some use ..... > unworthy priest George


#35 Guest_DR. R. E. POUND

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 03:36 PM

[Rev.Fr.George Morelli Dear Friend and beloved Brother in Christ = Jesus, thank you for your caring and loving reply, I appreciate it very = much and agree with much of what you said. It seems that the entire = theme of these discussions, except for a few points, consists in joining = self-fulfillment with sinful lusts, and if this is the case then I do = agree that it is sinful and wrong. However, I do not find that everyone = who engages in self-fulfillment, does so inorder to fulfill sinful = lusts.

I do find that the normal action of the human body often engages in = these kind of actions, even in an unconscious manner merely for the = physical releases involved without any intention of thinking about any = other person. However the most important point, to me at least, that = you made, is relating to the marriage union of the husband and wife = showing the Trinitarian Union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I am = not a Hebrew Spiritualist, though I do love reading from their ancient = writers and commentators, and a Jewish step-father planted within me the = seeds for future Jewish studies. So I do agree that the various forms = of marriage here in this present evil world suggest the union of the = Three in One, and other blessed unions as taught in the Sacred = Scriptures.

I find your reply to be very helpful and richly full of wonderful = Biblical truths. Thank you so very much for sharing these points with = me and others. May the Lord bless you, dear brother; =


#36 Guest_DR. R. E. POUND

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 03:55 PM

[Dear Christian friends, please do not conclude that I am favoring any = kind of sinful actions in any way. However, may I rise to a point of = order on this question and ask why we think the OT Biblical character = engaged in masturbation when he cast or spilt his seed on the ground? = In many cultures birth control is practiced by the man pulling out of = the wife inorder to do this very thing. It is not masturbation, but a = form of birth control.

Another point of order is that the sin was in refusing to raise up = children to the dead brother's wife as the next of kin and/or the = kinsman redeemer often did. Had the person in question refused to place = his seed in his sister in law, and merely went out and milked a goat, = would goat-milking now be considered as a sin? Beyond all doubt had he = merely milked a goat rather than pulling out, it would have been sinful = because this is not what the Lord God said to do. But would that have = made goat-milking sinful?

So in all proper respect I find that there are two questions here that = are not answered, what did the casting of the seed on the ground consist = of, and why was it sinful?=20

Was the casting of the seed on the ground masturbation or merely = pulling out? Was it sinful because he did this, or because he disobeyed = the Lord's command to produce seed unto his brother's name?

While discussing this event with others in the past, I have seen them = using this to try and prove that any form of birth control is sinful. =


#37 Fr. George Morelli

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 05:36 PM

> Dr Pound .. Glory to Jesus Christ .... if I may be so bold as to > attempt a reply ...I ask for the backup of Fr Raphael and Dr > Steenberg. As I understand it God's command to Onan in Genesis was > a specific command so his brother Er's wife would not go childless. > Onan specifically waisted his seed and was a deliberate disobedience > of God's command to not allow his brother's wife to go childless. > The descendants were to be the ancestors of Jesus and these would be > the people of the Old Covenant. Thus the sin was specific to this > act of disobedience (although this passage is cited by > fundamentalists to cover masturbation in general). The Orthodox > (people of the New and Everlasting Covenant) understanding comes from > the fuller revelation by Christ to us that marriage is a sacred act > ... as He is the bridegroom and we are bride. Marriage should typify > the the Divine Love and Creation of the Holy Trinity and commitment of > Christ even unto death for His bride, that the married couple now "one > flesh" have for each other. ..... this in my limited view has been the > understanding and tradition of the Church since Our Lord revealed this > to us. The epistles of St. Paul go on to explain this in more detail, > as have the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers frequently describe > sin in two ways: 'as missing the mark' as an arrow missing the > bullseye of a target, and as 'illness'. If sin is "missing the mark" > then surely self satisfaction is lacking. It is not the center of the > target. From a psychological perspective if one were to have an > orgasm free from ideation, say during sleep, or reflexively in some > way then there would not be full consent of the will or sufficient > reflection. Thus an involuntary missing of the mark? The center of > the target is a committed blessed loving conjugal union. We can only > state what the center of the target is. Only God can judge the > "actual" sinfulness of an individual. I surely cannot .. I have to > look at the beams in my own eye and not judge my brother. God > commissioned His Church to teach us what is the center or off center > of the target As masturbation becomes habitual and as some have > described 'quite addicting' ...and whereby someone becomes a slave to > the practice ...it can easily be seen as an illness. I have pastorally > and clinically encountered individuals where masturbation has replaced > conjugal union this is thus self not a loving other centered activity > .... humbly ...FrGeorge


#38 Fr. George Morelli

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 05:55 PM

> Dr Pound ... Glory to Jesus Christ ...if I may be so bold again as to > add to my last response. As a priest and as a psychologist I find > the Church Fathers two descriptions of sin (missing the mark and > illness) both pastoral and clinical blessings. The Latin Church use > of the terms mortal and venial are too black and white so to speak, > too juridical and thus pastorally and clinically less useful. Now > be sure all sin of any type is displeasing to God ....but a sin that > misses the mark a little (just off center) is quite different from one > that is say 180 deg. off center .... the ascetical practice, healing > processes, psychospiritual interventions would be so different So also > would be the approach by the Father Confessor or clinician to the > penitent-patient. The illness model also allows for degrees of > illness and individualizing the healing process ........ just a few > reflections .... obviously much more could be said but hopefully > enough for now ...once again humbly in Christ ...FrGeorge


#39 Eugene

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 06:01 PM

Just as a comment, it's interesting to note that in Hebrew the root meaning of the word "Torah" (which is translated in English as "the law of God") is "aming the target", and the root meaning of the word "betrothal" is "to be/become holy". Also, concering the sin of Onan, St. Maximos the Confessor mentions the following metaphorical meaning: "pooring the seed of faith and righteousness by faith on the earth of errors and passions like Onan" (Questions and Answers to Thallasios, ch.XXIII).


#40 Guest_DR. R. E. POUND

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Posted 23 March 2005 - 11:55 PM

[Rev.Fr.George Morelli dear beloved brother, another excellent reply. = If I understand you correctly, then I would agree with most of what you = have stated. I find in your spiritual insight a very refreshing love = and concern for truth and persons as well. Thank you dear brother for = sharing with us all, and with me in particular, may the Lord bless you =





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